I spend most of my time being a little bit of a snob about movies. I have most of an arts degree during which Cinema Studies was one of the things I was enrolled in. I recoil in horror when I find out my partner hasn’t watched some of the classics of cinema. I then try to educate him and sit him down to watch things like Clockwork Orange and the Shining when a conversation about Kubrick comes up. Thankfully he had seen 2001, so we didn’t have to talk about taking ‘a break’. I used to co-own the Criterion Collection laserdiscs and be able to talk about Clint Eastwood as an auteur, and I still own Monaco’s How to Read a Film.
So explain to me my obsession with Hallmark Christmas Romance Movies?
It started last year with The Christmas Prince. I then watched the rest of those, being very disappointed when the lead actors refused to come back for the sequels. The replacement actors were just not the same. I am not saying the previous performances had been Oscar-worthy, but they were enjoyable within the limitations of the script. So this year when the Christmas Romances started rolling into my recently addeds, I couldn’t wait to get stuck in, starting with The Holiday Calendar ‘A struggling but talented photographer inherits an antique holiday advent calendar, the contents of which seem to predict the future. Will this magical calendar lead her to love this holiday season?’.
So I am not sure whether spoiler alerts are necessary here because if you can’t spot what is going to happen in one of these movies, then I am not sure you would remember anything I say here for more than five minutes after reading it. Anyway, the calendar is magical, she is sceptical and then she isn’t but then she had it all wrong and then she gets together with a guy with the worst hairstyle I have seen for a long time. If it is long, wear it down, otherwise, cut it off dude. She even at one point, shock, horror throws the calendar away. Nothing happens at any point between the first sighting of foam snow on the sidewalk to the last red Christmas bauble that will surprise you except perhaps that she did not get the guy to change his hairstyle after a year. Seriously, it was annoying.
The great thing about watching these movies and predicting the plots and yes yelling at the TV every so often is that they are over quite quickly, none of this 3 hours of movie. You are out of there in under 80 minutes.
Don’t get me wrong, as much as these movies are predictable and corny; I will still tear up at the happy ending. I just love picking them apart on the way, it is like a two for one. As long as there are more Christmas Decorations than you can poke a stick at. And they must all be gorgeous and tasteful and make me want to go and spend thousands of dollars on making my entire house a winter wonderland where even my side tables have lights wrapped around them because that is what people do. Even single people in apartments have massive live Christmas trees with perfectly decorated boughs. I would love to see the props area at Hallmark films, I imagine the Christmas decorations storage area would be the size of a small village.
Next on my list was called, yep no idea, anyway, she worked in a bookshop and couldn’t stand guys who didn’t read. I hear you sister. My favourite thing about this one apart from the love interest having amnesia and not knowing who he was, was the snow on the pavement. It wasn’t foam, it was quilting padding or cushion filling placed in squares around the trees and buildings. So much better than foam because it would last all day, you wouldn’t have to reset it while filming. Genius. It made me laugh every time. I never stopped noticing it. Then another bookish one, this time she worked in a publishing house and had lost her Christmas spirit. Let’s not forget that these are all set very close to and always finish on Christmas, so this publishing house was signing deals and planning releases right up to Christmas Day. I am not saying that doesn’t happen, but it seems like they should have organised some of these things for a bit earlier in the year. She gets jealous of the pretty nurse for no reason, and there are some magic Chrismas Ornaments that she misreads and shock, horror takes off the tree!
You might think what with it only being November I couldn’t possibly have watched any more of these yet, but I have because who could resist The Princess Switch? Doesn’t sound Christmassy? Well, it is because there is a Christmas cake being baked and it is Christmas, with foam snow and because oh my god it is set in da duh, Belgravia, home of The Christmas Prince. How many good-looking young princes and princesses can one country have? This movie is comfortingly predictable right down to the moment the ‘funny’ villain lands ‘hilariously’ in the snow exactly when you expect it. I am not sure why all the reveals and declarations had to happen at public events each time but that is how they do things in Belgravia so who am I to criticise another culture’s customs.
Then last night I watched The Christmas Wedding Planner. Snow foam; Check, Christmas Decorations everywhere; Check. Arrogant but appealing love interest; Nope. The guy she is meant to fall in love with was awful. All the characters were just really broadly drawn but without reaching funny. The ‘funny’ Bridesmaid stereotypes were Bitter, Copycat and Clumsy, they were not funny. The ‘clumsy one’ knocked some macaroons over on another bridesmaid, she did not spill coffee on the unpaid for wedding dress or on the wedding dress on the day of the wedding. Why have a clumsy bridesmaid if she isn’t going to do something spectacular.
None of the plot made sense, it was far-fetched, disjointed and annoying. Not as annoying as the lighting which would actually make it look like two actors talking to each other were in entirely different places. The ending, however, was spectacular. It was my partner playing computer games and half listening to my exasperated commentary that called it. I said don’t be ridiculous no way that would happen, even in one of these movies. Then it did. The bride is not only not getting married because her fiance’s pregnant lover turns up before they say ‘I do’ but she is totally fine, in fact happy, when her cousin, the Christmas Wedding Planner then gets married in her place, to her ex-boyfriend. The ex-boyfriend that broke her heart and then ruined her wedding by turning up with a pregnant woman and that her cousin, the Christmas Wedding Planner has known for about four days.
Our Christmas Wedding Planner then texts her mum to let her know she got married. Not cool.
I believe this will retain the crown of Worst Christmas Romance Movie. No amount of decorations or foam snow could save this one. I am now on a mission to find a worse one.
At least all of them have more wholesome, happy plotlines with stronger female protagonists than Love Actually. Well, maybe not The Christmas Wedding Planner, that really was fucked.